CAIRO, (Reuters) - Egyptian stocks ended mixed on Monday in quiet trade, with news of a takeover fuelling the banking sector, profit-taking in telecoms and cements slowing their descent, brokers said. The benchmark Hermes Index closed off 48.22 points, or 0.7 percent, at 6,512.37 while the broader CIBC index ended up 0.04 points, or 0.1 percent, at 69.33.
"The market was relatively stable on Monday," said Chahir Hesni, institutional trader at ABN AMRO Delta Securities. "The market was off a little on thin volumes with telecoms seeing some profit-taking," said Bassim Arida, head of sales at HC Brokerage. The banking sector saw healthy trade on the back of talk that a stake in Credit International d'Egypte (CIE) was being sold off. Sources close to HSBC, which owns around 90 percent of CIE through its Credit Commercial de France operation, said on Sunday HSBC would sell a 75 percent stake in the bank to Credit Agricole and an Egyptian company, Mansour and Maghrabi Group.
CIE was one of the day's strongest gainers, ending up 1.58 pounds, or five percent, to close at 33.88 pounds on low volumes. Commercial International Bank (CIB) saw active trade as some investors scurried to position themselves in the banking sector amid growing signs of foreign investor interest in the sector, brokers said.
"Investors began to focus on the banking sector when they heard there was lots of foreign interest in the sector," Hesni said. CIB ended the session up 0.43 pounds, or 1.3 percent, at 34.71 pounds, on volumes of 121,681. The cement sector managed to decelerate its downward momentum. "The market has overreacted to delays in bids for Helwan Cement," Hesni said. Helwan shares have been falling, often the maximum five percent daily limit, for at least the last 10 days as an investor failed to emerge since bidding began on May 1 for the government's 47.9 percent stake. Helwan shares ended down 1.04 pounds, or 2.8 percent, at 35.50 pounds. Fellow cement big cap, Suez Cement inched up 0.14 pounds, or 0.4 percent, to close at 34.67.
Telecoms eased on profit taking, traders said. Egyptian Company for Mobile Services (MobiNil) closed down 2.08 pounds, or 3.0 percent, at 68.51, while regional mobile operator Orascom Telecom (OT) ended the day down 0.89 pounds, or 2.9 percent, at 29.90 pounds.($1=3.88 Egyptian pounds)
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